Baptized in faith

By Rev. Derek Mathers


On a Sunday in March, 22 individuals were baptized into the family of God at the Church of St. Luke – Lutheran in Toronto, Ontario – an English District congregation of the LCMS. The individuals are Persians from Iran and they are facing the altar so they cannot be identified outside the congregation – which shares their concern for family members still living in Iran who might be in danger because they have converted to Christianity. Mr. Daryoush Bahrami, Servant leader of the Persian Fellowship, and Pastor Derek Mathers, are facing the camera.

How does it happen that 127 adults and children have come to be baptized at St. Luke over the past three years? One testimony unfolds like this.

Imagine going on vacation to another country overseas for a couple of months with your family. While travelling and seeing the sights, you receive news from friends and family that security officers of your home country’s government have entered your home on the suspicion that you have become a follower of Jesus. In their search, the officers find the only Bible you own – a gift from the leader of the underground Christian fellowship you are attending once a month. Now you and your family are facing prison if you return to your home.

You apply for refugee status in the country you are visiting. You attend a Christian congregation which has a fellowship group that speaks in your language. You can hear God’s Word openly and freely without fear every week. God’s Spirit draws you closer to Jesus Christ and you ask the question, can I be baptized? Following instruction, together with 21 others, you receive God’s grace through baptism amidst sounds of celebration and clapping. You are anointed with oil, receive salt on your tongue, and a new cross is placed around your neck. You have received the gift of new life. But the question remains, will you be allowed to stay in this country?”

Of the 127 baptized people at St. Luke, some are now citizens of Canada and many are in the process of waiting for a judgement from the Refugee Board of Canada. For a few, this process has been going on for three years. It is our prayer that these few will soon be citizens – and they have our continued support.

Rev. Mathers is the Assistant to the Bishop/Mission Executive of the English District Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at


Meet our Missions – Bethesda AIMS


Meet our Missions – Asian Indian Ministry-Chicago (Bethesda AIMS)

By: Rev. Shadrach Katari, Missionary

Twenty years ago in this winter season, the Asian Indian Ministry (AIM) was started by Bethesda Lutheran Church, Chicago, IL, with the blessing of Bishop David Ritt and with the support of the English District LCMS. A small core group was started to proclaim the Gospel to both Christians and non-Christians of India on the north side of Chicago.  We proceeded with multiple programs and projects to build up this ministry – to identify the needs of Asian Indians who come to the USA as immigrants, especially new immigrants.

Social Activities:  In the beginning of this ministry, with the help of the core group and other supporters, we helped the new immigrants to find food, temporary shelters and helped them to find jobs, whether they were Christians or Hindus or Muslims.  We built a good relationship with the people and invited them to attend our Sunday worship which is in our own language, Telugu.

Small Bible Groups:  While we are helping, we are giving them Gospel tracts and New Testaments and preach the Gospel.  We invite them to the small Bible studies at their neighborhood homes. Many people show up at home gatherings to spend time with us. Occasionally, we meet at homes for birthday celebrations and home functions and other general activities, like picnics and sports and games.

Gospel Meetings and Concerts:  We also took things a step further by inviting people for Gospel meetings and concerts on a larger scale to preach the Gospel to non-Christians.  Three times a year, in the summer and fall, we conduct these meetings at Bethesda or in other Chicago suburbs. Many people come and receive blessings, and we pray for healing for the sick and needy.


Sunday Worship:  Every Sunday, our worship is in the Telugu language – and sometimes in English – at 6:30 p.m. at Bethesda in Chicago. Members from all over Chicago and the suburbs come to attend and to worship the Lord with us.  Many times, we see new immigrants come as visitors and receive blessings. Most of our members are scattered all over the Chicago area because of their jobs.  Now we have more than 100 members and visitors that attend Sunday worship and small Bible study groups.

Evangelism:  We strongly believe evangelism is a very important aspect in our ministry to reach the non-believers. A group of our church members has taken this task seriously, and goes to grocery stores and fast-food restaurants to find Indian workers, giving them Gospel tracts and talking with them in person. When on the street doing our evangelical work, we face big opposition from the Hindu fundamental groups and Muslim extremists.  But the Word of God is powerful and we do not back down from the evangelical work.

We are so grateful to our present Bishop, Rev. Hardy and Mission Executive, Rev. Mathers, for their help and support.  Our hope is to grow together with the Bethesda English congregation and be co-leaders with the church.

To learn more about Bethesda AIMS, email Rev. Katari at, join their group on Facebook, or visit their website.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at



Meet our Missions – Voice of Faith


Voice of Faith, a ministry of Faith Lutheran, Naples, FL, is one of the missions supported by the English District LCMS.

The outreach is twofold. First, they bring Christian congregations an awareness of the vast growth of Islam in the country and its effects on our churches. They strive to teach the truth about other religions and to train Christians to reach out into the community with love, acceptance and respect for those of other faiths. At the same time, Voice of Faith endeavors to keep youth in the Church by preparing them to become stronger Christians.

The second part of the ministry is to “reach out to men and women of Eastern Religions and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Many of them were unable to learn of Jesus Christ and the Gospel’s message in their native lands. In the United States, we have the freedom to share this Good News with them.”

Not only are they sharing the Gospel with nonbelievers, but they are also helping the ones who are leaving the Church by marriage or other relationships with nonbelievers.

Voice of Faith utilizes different ways to reach the community. Each week, Voice of Faith hosts a Bible study via Skype. But the most popular program is their Sewing Circle.

“Our Sewing Circle is becoming a social platform for many non-believing women and a great opportunity for us to share Christ in the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami areas. We are planning to start our second Sewing Circle in Orlando by April 2018, as a lot of need is arising there.” In Muslim circles, Orlando is considered a “second Dearborn” (MI) because the Muslim population is growing there. “We need a lot of prayers and support to start our second branch there.”

During this past holiday season, Voice of Faith held a very well-attended Thanksgiving celebration, where they thanked God for the blessings they receive in freedom. The event started with a Bible study, singing hymns and then a dinner after service.

For Christmas, the Voice of Faith Sewing Circle held two celebrations because their numbers are growing as more women are becoming involved.

“We are praying that God will open many doors of opportunity for us as we move on with new plans of mission.” Each month, the newsletter shares the outreach efforts, from Baptisms to counseling those looking at an interfaith marriage.

To learn more about Voice of Faith, visit their website and follow on Facebook.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at

Meet our Missions – PLM

Meet our Missions
Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries

This month’s edition of “Meet our Missions” introduces the Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries (PLM), one of the many missions supported by the English District.

By: Rev. Robert Kieselowsky, Executive Director; Pastor: St. John Lutheran, Springfield, PA and Logos Lutheran, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries (PLM) proclaims the Gospel of Christ where it has not previously been established by the LCMS.  Its mission church, Logos Lutheran, meets at the intersection of millions of lives in the heart of the city. It is the first ever LCMS congregation in the urban core of Philadelphia.

Center City Philadelphia continues to grow quickly as young people move back into the city to study and work, making it the most densely-populated area outside of Manhattan, NY. Christ comes to where people are—and Philadelphia is a city where countless people have never clearly heard God’s promises in Christ. These treasures must be shared with the souls of the city.

We chose the name Logos Lutheran from John 1:14:  “The Word (Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Our mission is to proclaim liberty found in the Logos, the Word, to the people of the city.  This happens through our weekly services where Christ abides in His Word and sacraments, with personal pastoral care, and in weekly Bible studies for area university students.

To learn more about PLM, follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or visit their website.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at

PLM photo


Meet our Missions – Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest

This month’s edition of “Meet our Missions” introduces the Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSSSW), one of the many missions supported by the English District.



“A population that does not take care of the elderly and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise.” – Pope Francis

This month’s edition of “Meet our Missions” introduces the Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSSSW), one of the many missions supported by the English District.

“I came so that you may have life and live it more abundantly.” – John 10:10

Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest was started in 1970 by a group of congregations in Arizona asking, “How can we care for one another?” Motivated by God’s love for the world, today they serve over 60,000 people annually in Arizona; stabilizing lives during times of crisis, building self-reliant foundations where all people can fulfill their basic needs, and preserving dignity and respect for our most fragile populations that include older adults, people with developmental disabilities, refugees who are courageously rebuilding their lives and those who have encountered bumps in life and are seeking resources, hope and compassion.

One of their core ministries is in-home care. If you have ever cared for an aging or ill family member, you know how difficult it can be. It’s hard to see somebody that you love slip away. But the aid of a good home care provider, which your generosity supports, can ease the burden. As one of the only non-profits in Arizona that provides in-home care, they carry out this work with Christ’s mercy and compassion. There are 2,500 older adults currently on waiting lists for services.

Here is just one example of the LSS-SW making a difference:

“Richard’s life changed one day when we dropped a bottle on the ground and realized that he couldn’t reach it. “I was filled with a new kind of fear. I realized that I was getting older and needed help. I didn’t know what to do.” Richard now receives LSS-SW home care a few times each month, and says “Getting home-bound is not as frightening as it once was. My caregiver, Lana, makes me feel like I am not stuck all by myself. Somebody cares.”” 

To learn more about LSS-SW, follow them on Facebook, or visit their website.

Click HERE to donate to missions supported by the English District.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at 

Meet our Missions – Bethany Liberian Mission


This month in our “Meet our Missions” series, we are highlighting Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, a mission congregation of the English District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

By Rev. Fred Gerlach, Pastor, Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church

In 2001, Bethany Lutheran Church became a home congregation to Liberians who were displaced by the Liberian Civil war. This brutal conflict not only crippled this nation-child of American democracy, but divided families by driving people from their homes and their communities into refugee camps located outside of Liberia. Bethany was an active partner with Lutheran Immigrant Services in helping these immigrants relocate and settle in the Trenton, New Jersey area. Bethany continues to actively serve this community and other socially-challenged members of our community. Our primary objective is to educate Liberian immigrants and others to be Confessional Lutheran in understanding of scripture and worship.

Catechizing adults and children from this community has challenges in that American English does not always equate to Liberian English. On Sunday morning, we teach very deliberately to assure that we are properly communicating the Gospel. This year, we have supplied Lutheran Worship hymnals to all of the families of the congregation. Using the Lutheran Worship Hymnals teaches our Liberian families not only the faith, but it is also a reading tool. This produces several benefits:

  1. It teaches the faith and how Lutherans worship.
  2. It helps them understand the Bible.
  3. It teaches and improves their reading skills.
  4. It gives them a guide on how to pray.
  5. It teaches the hymns.

Bethany addresses many issues in our community and not just for the Liberian community. While we are a part of the city of Trenton, though we are not in the heart of the city, we have people from local group homes and the homeless who regularly visit our congregation. We serve these individuals through food, meals, transportation to church and other needs. Many of our Liberians live in the city, which like many urban centers, needs to manage crime, gangs, drug abuse and economic issues. Our grant aids this mission and congregation providing human care such as food, medicine and counseling. Many of our immigrants are the working poor because they lack education and training required for higher paying jobs. Often, we assist families with paying for rent, utilities, medical bills and other basic needs. Last summer, a Liberian woman and mother of three children needed an extensive surgery that required her to miss six weeks of work. Her disability insurance could not support the family, so Bethany helped her with mortgage payment assistance and transportation to therapy.

An important part of our mission is the support of our children. The children need assistance in a number of areas, such as tutoring, school supplies and being in a safe environment to play and socialize. In August of 2016, we supplied 61 children with backpacks and school supplies. We had two elementary school teachers give advice to parents (mostly single mothers) on how to help children with homework and how to communicate with the child’s teacher. We have a book and breakfast program each quarter for about 25 children, where they come to have something light to eat and they get to choose a book to take home and read. Each child is encouraged to write a story to bring home and read to their parents and family.  Many of the kids would love more activities, but we are limited with our volunteers.


Every year we help 8-10 Liberian families with meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also, on a weekly basis, we help Liberians, the homeless and shut-ins with bread, pastries and various household items. We also sponsor health events where nurses from the local hospitals come and take blood pressure and blood tests to check for diabetes. This year we held a mammogram check for the community. The event was sponsored by Princeton Hospital and we offered rides so people could participate.

There are many social events we engage in to reach out to the community, including the Ewing Drug and Alcohol Alliance, Woman’s Place (shelter for abused women), and Trenton Rescue Center. Our congregation is a caring and Christ-centered church. Our treasure is the people we serve, and our partners in the English District and our sister congregations of this district share in the work of this mission to ensure our ability to serve this community. Without the support of these partners, we would not be able to serve the community to such an extensive way.

If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at

A Golden Opportunity

If we pay close attention and listen, we may find a golden opportunity to share our faith. Today’s post is another great example of the importance of Campus Ministry.


October Slippery Rock

By August R. Mennell

If we pay close attention and listen, we may find a golden opportunity to share our faith. Today’s post is another great example of the importance of Campus Ministry.

This summer presented a golden opportunity for campus ministry at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center. Three international students: Wendy and Paula (not their real names), who are Muslims, and Jane, an Orthodox Christian, were on Slippery Rock University’s (SRU) campus a week before most of the students had arrived. Because these students were not yet taking classes they had little to do. They were eager to talk and to visit places in the area. They were glad to share just about everything, including their religious beliefs. The Lord had given campus ministry a golden opportunity.

In today’s politically-correct world, many secular people and some Christians believe that although sharing friendship is fine, they believe it is an imposition to bring up, even just to mention, religious beliefs. In short, personal religious beliefs must never be brought up in public. Campus ministry, however, believes that sharing the Christian faith is not an imposition, but is a God-given opportunity.

Wendy is a practicing Muslim. She came to All Saints because an Ethiopian student had told her that All Saints would help her. She was lonely and missed her family in Pakistan. She had no way to get around town. She needed transportation to buy an international telephone card so she could call her parents.

Wendy was easy to talk with. She described how excited she is to be studying in Slippery Rock; how she wants to travel to New York and California before her exchange program ends in December; and how she has signed up for the most challenging classes she can enroll in at SRU. She explained that she has chosen to wear a head covering, to pray five times a day, and to observe Muslim religious festivals because she is serious about her faith.

In the days that followed she came in regularly when she realized that we were kind and would help her. As we talked during the days before classes began, we became friends and we made time to visit a quilt shop in an Amish community near Volant; got the phone card in Butler; and ate ice cream cones at several shops in the area. A special day arrived when Wendy came to Sunday worship and we sat together. We helped her understand the service. She felt very welcome at All Saints and says she will try to come again as her studies permit.

Wendy did not stop coming in to visit when classes began. She feels so appreciative for the kindness shown to her that she rushed back from a trip to Chicago just to be here on time for All Saints’ Labor Day student meal. Wendy is a warm, friendly student who smiles a lot. She is interested in everything including talking about her faith and listens to what Christians believe. The sharing of faith is an awesome opportunity.

Jane, an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, enjoys the friendship that she got when she came to All Saints before classes began. She showed her appreciation by preparing a delicious, very spicy dish to share. She came several times to converse. She said she is an Orthodox Christian; that she would come to our Lutheran worship service, which she did. She enjoyed the worship which she said is not so different than her own.

Jane told us about her religious beliefs. She said she does sometimes fast, but she added that she does not really understand the Lord’s Supper. We invited her to come in so we could share more about the Bible and faith issues. Her first reaction was to decline the offer for a Bible study. She said no to the invitation, commenting that Christianity does not seem to be part of the real world. The real world, she believes, is so filled with corruption that faith does not seem to make a difference. Jane added one more comment regarding our invitation to study the Bible. She said she believes she needs to “feel” like doing this before she would do so. She implied that until she is “good enough” and has right feelings she should not come to worship or Bible study. I asked if she always “felt” like going to classes. She said no. And then she amazed me. Almost out of the blue she asked if we could meet on Saturday or Sunday to talk about faith. Wow! We will find a way! What an opportunity, one too good to pass up.

Paula from the Middle East also came in to ask for help learning to drive. She had attended a Christian high school but did not learn who Jesus really is. She still finds more comfort in the Koran than in the Bible. Even so, she is quite comfortable at All Saints. She talked about her research, her attempts to deal with the stress of studies, and her joy in learning to drive. She has let us know she is willing to describe her faith and to listen to who Jesus is according to the Bible. We could not ask for a better opportunity. It is golden.

This semester is bright with the chance to share the Gospel with international and American students at Slippery Rock University. We would appreciate your prayers for what we are doing.

Augusta R. Mennell is the Campus Ministry Director at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center in Slippery Rock, PA. If you have a mission or ministry story you’d like to share, please submit for consideration via email to Lynne at